New host, new software

Unfortunately, due to a compromised SQL Server, my site has been down for a
few days. This is most frustrating for me, it’s hard enough finding the time,
topics and tantalising writing style  without my server having to be taken
off-line.

As a result of the rather poor support response on my previous host, I am
trying out 1&1
hosting. This site is currently running in a very fine VPS which seems to be a lot more responsive than my previous VPS at my old host. I actually ordered it on Friday evening, having threatened to take my custom elsewhere, but unfortunately it didn’t get provisioned until yesterday due to the requirement to check my
identity. This meant I lost all weekend, which I was going to use to migrate a
few sites over to see how it performs. Not to worry, I guess it’s the sign of a
professional host. The sign up process was sleek, the administration controls I
have access to are comprehensive and the VPS runs like a dream.

As I said, I lost the weekend due to the delay in provisioning the VPS, but
that’s not to say the weekend was wasted. I thought I’d try out the latest
version of Community Server, which has steadily been improving over the last couple of years. My BloggingAbout.NET blog is actually based on a Community Server install, which is managed by a LinkedIn friend who kindly let me have a blog on the site. While Community Server is not the most flexible of systems (it is, after all, not a Content Management System), it certainly ticks all the boxes for blogging and community generation. I was very impressed with the software and how “easy” it was to theme to my previous site style. The flexibility is quite impressive. I can, for instance, at the flick of a few checkboxes create a blog and have it adopt a completely different theme to the rest of the site. All RSS, trackbacks, REST API and aggregation is all taken care of for me. I was previously using Sitecore Xpress, which although is really incredible, was requiring too much effort to be able to create a site equivelant to the standards of blogging services such as WordPress. I don’t want to lose Sitecore Xpress completely, though, I just need to figure out what content I can put in it that doesn’t contravene the extremely tight license agreement (I really want to be able to put it into a
client who is a charity, for instance) and how I can integrate the two systems.
(The Forum module of Sitecore is actually an old Community Server forum, and it
is very badly implemented and caused one particular Sitecore site to be very
unreliable, particularly under load, so my hopes aren’t too high).

I’m not sure what went wrong with my old host, to be honest. I had been with
them for nearly 10 years, and have recommended them to many others and sung
their praises. Their “can do” attitude was exactly the opposite of what is wrong
with 99% of hosting companies. If I was stuck, they would personally reply
within the hour. They were also very accommodating during the Work Connexions
project, despite some stiff load going their way and a number of low-level
configuration changes the team made to help improve performance while a new
server was specified and paid for. Unfortunately, they were messed around and
the particularly poor reponse to them from others caused difficulties with my
relationship with them. I also think that they might have over-reached
themselves with the VPS systems they have commissioned. My questions are either
not getting answered or are just waiting too long. The latest incident being
delayed due to one of the guys being on leave. With their new ticketing system,
I find it difficult to understand how my queries could not be automatically put
back into the support pool during the individual’s absence.

I’m going to run the two hosts side by side for a while and see how it goes.
I will be very sad to leave my old host, their service has been outstanding in
9/10 cases and I do admit to feeling slightly guilty for jilting them.
Hopefully, though, this new blogging software I am using will help things, too.
It can do Blogging, Wikis, Groups, Forums and Media libraries so there is lots
of scope for experimentation. All I need now is the content – and that is the
hardest part.

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